Numbers game

Road test: VW Golf 1.2 TSI petrol

Volkswagen’s 1.4 petrol engine has just won the Engine of the Year award (1.0 to 1.4 category) but VW has just dropped an even smaller engine, the 1.2 TSI in the latest Mk7 Golf.  This turbo-charged 1.2 litre unit is an entry level engine on the S trim only, available with either 85 or 105 PS; we tried the higher output version for direct comparison with the 105 PS 1.6 TDI diesel (available on the SE upwards) which we covered in our full review of the Mk7 in March.

Smooth and quiet

Like all VW petrol units, the 1.2 TSI is smooth and quiet.  Petrol engines in general (and this one is no exception) offer reasonable power figures but in this case, the 1.6 diesel has almost twice the torque.  Incredibly, this little petrol engine (with DSG gearbox here) can force the Golf to the magic 62 mph half a second quicker than the manual diesel (10.2 over 10.7 seconds).

Are there any shortcomings?  Pottering about, the 1.2 is extremely civilised and suits the new Golf well.  The real challenge is joining a fast A-road from a standstill.  Dropping the ‘box into Sport mode and putting the pedal to the floor, the car pulls smoothly but is extremely raucous as the revs climb.  Beyond 5,000 rpm, all the way up to the 6,000 red line – the engine feels positively at its limits.

It’s all about the numbers

Again, it’s all about the numbers – the diesel is much more comfortable pulling at mid-range speeds than the petrol 1.2 so for longer runs – especially those with fast A-roads and motorways – the diesel is certainly more relaxed.

The fact that the 1.2 is available in the S trim rather than the same power output diesel in SE brings purchase price down by £2,550 (comparing five-door models); an entry three-door car with the lower output 85 PS 1.2 petrol starts at £16,495.  However, requiring almost 12 seconds to achieve 62 mph, you’d be advised to save your pennies for the 105 PS.

The 1.6 diesel achieves the magic 99 g/km of CO2 but this petrol engine is still only 114 g/km and will cost just £30 per annum after the first free year with band C VED.

Our summary?  It’s clever, refined and mated to Volkswagen’s excellent seven speed DSG gearbox operates well.  However, even this lightened Mk7 Golf is still a heavy car for a small petrol engine – we’d opt for larger petrol or the diesel.

Volkswagen Golf Mk VII 105 PS 1.2 TSI DSG petrol (tested) at £19,575. Golf range starts at £16,495 for three-door 1.2 TSI

Power: 105 PS (5,000 rpm), torque: 129 Nm (from 1,550 – 4,100 rpm), emissions: 114g/km CO2 (band C), 0-60 mph: 10.2 secs.

Motor Writer rating: ●●●●○


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